twenty two

Hello reader! Today is my son Jamie’s birthday. He’s 22, which you most likely gleaned from the title of this entry. So, like I have in the past, I wrote a letter in honor of the day.


Dear James,

I don’t know if you realize it, but this time of year not only marks your birthday, but the anniversary of our arrival in Kentucky. And the anniversary of us moving into the house in which we currently call home. You are turning twenty two. We’ve lived in Kentucky thirteen years. Our house has been our house for six.

In thinking about all this, I remembered back to your first birthday here, right after we moved. It was your ninth. I believe the theme was UK basketball. Another thing I’m not sure you know….I did not want to move to Kentucky. It didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Much of my dislike of the idea had to do with you [and yes, your sister as well but she has always been such a strong little toot…not that you haven’t but you know what I mean, plus she was in kindergarten]. You’d already gone to three elementary schools. You received an award the fall before we moved. I don’t remember exactly what it was all about but it was some sort of character award and an honor to receive. I really liked your teacher, who was a male and probably the best you had up to that point [not that I have anything against female teachers, mind you]. You were doing well and I didn’t want to move you and your sister mid year, if at all. But move we did. And you did fine. No major issues with relocating. You made new friends. Had a good third grade teacher here. Played in a basketball league. Got into comic books.

Why did I mention any of this? Good question. I suppose because it reminds me of how I sometimes am fearful. Instead of being hopeful. And I really want you to choose hope. Not fear.

You probably do know this…..people often ask me what my son is majoring in. Then the usual follow up is “What’s he going to do?” In other words, they [not all of them but a smattering] have a notion that one cannot make a living playing an instrument. It’s as if the world believes everyone should become an engineer. The road to success. Financial prosperity. Or at least become an accountant. Even a pharmaceutical rep is acceptable. But musician? That’s only one step up from becoming an artist. In most people’s minds, it seems. Oddly, being a musician is the same as being an artist. But, again, in most people’s minds artist equals someone who utilizes paint. Anyway, I say all that because I have never worried about any of this. Whether or not you’ll make a life playing the guitar or teaching music theory at the university level or however your musical career plays out. I simply believe you will. I am hopeful. And I think, for you to choose another route, like stock broker, would be to choose fear. In other words, to base your life choices on the worst case scenario instead of the best.


So my wish for you, as you enter this new year of your life, is you choose hope over fear. The world is tumultuous. It probably always has been, but today, well today, it seems crazier than ever.

When I was your age, the current event was Nelson Mandela. Apartheid. Freedom.

I have a quote in my office.


As you go to grad school auditions, as you make decisions on where to go next after graduating in May, as you think and ponder and formulate a plan, I hope you choose hope and not fear. I’ve told you before [I think] that people who have no regrets are lying to themselves. And if you’re never afraid you’re not human. But don’t let fear dictate your life. Be hopeful. In doing so, you’ll be your own advocate.

Happy birthday. I think instead of saying “grace and peace” like we sort of jokingly, sort of seriously say to each other….we should, for this year, say “hope and joy”. Or “sanguine expectations to you!”. Because that’s the kind of people we are.

So here goes…..sanguine expectations to you! Oh, and happy Groundhog Day. Love you more than the world.

I decided…hey, why insert a photo of you and me when you were a baby or a toddler or a little leaguer and I looked like a younger version of myself? Why not show us like we look today? So I did.


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